Cervical cancer used to be a major cause of death in women during their childbearing years. But the development of the Pap smear in the 1950s and a vaccine in the 2000s against the virus that causes the cancer have greatly reduced the toll this cancer causes.
But 4,000 American women still die each year from cervical cancer, with African American women two to three times more likely than white women to succumb to this cancer.
Among the reasons for the disparity: the cancer is more likely to discovered at an advanced stage and treated less aggressively in black women.
Current recommendations are that women start being screened with a Pap smear beginning at age 21 and then every three to five years after that.
See: “Black women in America and cervical cancer prevention” by Anisa Shomo in the Atlanta Voice (February 2019)